I love this cute activity for Valentine’s Day! It takes some prep time, but it’s been worth it for me – especially for small groups of toddlers or even for home visits with families with several children.
PICTURES OF FRIENDS
Tape pictures of the children on a piece of poster board. Cover the pictures with a heart doily or another flap of heart-shaped paper to “hide” the picture.
Gather the children in a group or circle. Present the poster and sing the song below. Reveal a new picture as you sing each child’s name. After singing each verse, point to the picture and ask, “Who’s that? It’s ____!” Young children often love to “yell” as a way to respond to a question posed to the group. Model this louder tone to encourage toddlers to participate.
Give each child a turn to lift a heart to reveal a picture. A child can select a picture before the song begins and then the group will sing that child’s name in the song.
How to Play:
Introduce the activity by saying, “I have a surprise for you. Do you want to see?”
Sing the following song to the “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” tune:
“Do you know my Valentine? My valentine? My Valentine?
Do you know my Valentine? His/her name is _______________.”
Encourage all the children to look at and point to each child who is named.
Key Words: Names of friends, heart, open, see, friend
- Learn peers’ names.
- Follow one-step directions during a game.
- Using gestures to communicate by purposeful pointing.
- Imitate or spontaneously use signs, words, or phrases to name items or answer a question.
- Produce words during a verbal routine or song.
- Identify pictures of familiar people.
- Sequence actions within a group game.
- Identify familiar people, peers, or family members.
- Take turns during game.
- Participate in movement activities.
- Exhibit impulse control while waiting for a turn.
- Open flaps.
- Isolate index finger to point to a picture.
Expand the Game:
You can also easily incorporate other language goals into this game by changing your own prompt or question for the child.
If you’re working on answering yes/no questions, you can say, “Is this ____?” If you want the child to answer yes, say the correct name. If you want the child to say no, say the wrong name. Sometimes including a ridiculous choice like “Is this Daddy?” or “Is this Elmo?” will entice a child to answer “No!” rather than using another peer’s name.
Target gender pronouns by asking a child, “Who’s that? Is it her?” or “Is it him?” Point to the correct peer and model, “It’s her/him.” Encourage a child to imitate gender pronouns. Remember before you work on gender pronouns, kids have to understand the concepts of boy vs. girl. Teach using those words by pointing to a picture or a child and saying, “Who’s this? Is she a girl or a boy?” Add a new component to the game by writing a child’s name on the heart or flap for an emergent literacy activity. Exposure to a written name is the only purpose for this activity.
It is not developmentally appropriate for toddlers and young preschoolers who are struggling with language to recognize their written names and should not be addressed as a formal goal, but if a child is hyperlexic (as seen in ASD), then you could use this visual strength as an avenue for targeting other language goals. Otherwise, think of using written names during this activity as targeting pre-literacy skills with exposure.